It’s Only Three Hours and One Border Stop Away
On November 2, a friend packed my car to the ceiling and I moved from Hungary to Austria to join OM’s Greater Europe (GE) in Stockerau, which is about is about 15 miles north of Vienna. I am really enjoying my new team, the new place to live and the new ministry opportunities. In my new role, I am able to concentrate more on communications work for OM’s Central Europe area, which is why I joined OM, as well as help with the communications for GE. (More about GE’s ministry later. And, no, it doesn‘t stand for General Electric.) I have already traveled a fair bit in the Area role, going to Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. In 2003, I plan to visit the Czech Republic, Albania and the Balkans and Bosnia.
The decision to leave Hungary wasn’t easy and it didn‘t happen overnight, but the Lord opened the door for me be more involved in the communications work, which is where my heart and passion lie. My year in Hungary was not without its’ difficulties, but I learned a lot about myself and about God and His unwavering faithfulness to His children. It was also a wonderful experience to live in Eastern Europe and experience the Hungarian culture. The Hungarian people are wonderful…they are warm, friendly and are gracious to foreigners when struggling with the language. Hungary will always hold a special place in my heart.
What Does the GE Team Do?
GE is one of the oldest groups in OM, having started in the late ‘60s as a Bible/Christian literature smuggling group into Communist Bloc countries. Some of those “pioneers” are still on the team, and it’s fascinating to hear their stories. There’s no smuggling anymore, but the team’s literature department now produces books in many languages (In 2002, over 200,000 pieces of literature in 15 languages). We also work with editors, translators, printers and distributors throughout Eastern Europe to get the materials into different countries.
The other element of GE’s ministry is delivering humanitarian aid to some of the areas poorest countries in Europe…Bosnia, Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria. GE owns a commercial truck and trailer and makes 12-20 trips to these countries yearly, delivering various items, including diapers, food, clothes, medical supplies, bicycles and equipment. Each time Esko (the driver) goes on a trip, he returns with interesting, and many times, heartbreaking stories about life there.
In late-November, Esko and another man took a truck load to Moldova, filled with many items, including Christmas packages. While meeting with officials from the Baptist Union in Moldova, the men heard about the tragic story of one Christian family. The father was killed in a fire at the gas station where he worked, which was set by the “mafia” because the station owners hadn’t paid the protection money. When the wife began investigating, she disappeared. Their two daughters, 12 and 16, were placed in an orphanage, but shortly thereafter, a Christian woman decided to adopt them. However, before she could get the paperwork finalized, the girls were given to a 70-year-old couple, who used them as work and sex slaves. Fortunately, this woman fought for, rescued and adopted the girls. They are now living with her, involved in church and doing well.
For more information about GE‘s ministry, including monthly prayer updates, visit us at www.a.om.org
Adventures Traveling through Eastern Europe
“Are you a professional journalist,” the Ukrainian pastor asked me while interviewing him about his church’s involvement in a sports outreach program that OM coordinated.
“Yes, I am,” I responded, not quite confidently. Just then it dawned on me….for the first time in many years, I am again doing what I love to do…writing stories. But, the question was strange for me, as I am now not representing a newspaper, magazine or corporation, but an organization and a movement that is spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to all corners of the world, and in which I completely believe.
I have the privilege of participating in that – as a professional journalist, as a missionary – in the Lord’s work in OM Central Europe. It was a defining moment for me, not only professionally, but personally and spiritually.
In May 2002, I assumed the role of area communications officer for Central Europe and have been quite busy. As the ACO, I am responsible for assisting the OM fields in their various forms of communication, whether it be through newsletters, recruiting stories, support raising materials, etc.
I was in the Ukraine for a week in mid-October to “cover” a huge sports outreach event that OM coordinated. Over 3,000 children in Rivne, Ukraine participated in a sports/Bible program, modeled after the Olympics. Medals were given, the winners stood on a tri-level podium and the Ukraine national anthem was played. It was a terrific experience to see so many children exposed to the Gospel through a very creative event. I wrote a story about the event, called KidsGames, and magazines in Ukraine and Northern Ireland, and a Christian newspaper in Denmark are going to run the story. Another aspect of my role is to help promote OM’s ministries in Central Europe outside the OM world…getting this story published is exciting.
In early September, I went to Romania (via 12-hour train ride) to help the OM Team write an English newsletter. I was there for about a week and really enjoyed being back there (it’s where I spent five weeks last year for training.) From there, I traveled 3 hours by train to Bucharest, had a 4-hour layover, and then took the overnight train (13 hours) to Moldova for OM Central Europe Area meetings. I also took an overnight train (15 hours) to Ukraine in October, and hope to be finished with train rides for a while.
At the Romania-Moldova border crossing, the Romanian guard asked me what I had been doing in Romania…visiting friends and writing stories, I answered. He then asked why I was going to Moldova…because I am a writer and I have friends there, I replied. He smiled and said, “you have a lot of friends, don’t you?” and then stamped my passport and moved on. He could’ve searched my bags, but didn’t, for which I was very grateful, since it was about 4 a.m. I realize how vulnerable I am in those situations, but trust in the safety and protection of the Lord during those times.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
|Jesus…The Reason for Christmas
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But, the angels said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in the manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.“ Luke 1:8-14
How Good is Your Hungarian?
Congratulations to Dave and Lynn Pollock (WA), Laura and Jonathan Devilbiss (HI) and Jenny Holsinger and her friend June (VA) for their mostly correct answers to the quiz of Hungarian names for books of the Bible from my last newsletter. Team Devilbiss only had one wrong answer (Ezra, not Esther). Thanks to all who participated. Prizes for the winners are forthcoming!! The correct answers are:
|1) Mozes I-V (any of them) – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy|
|2) Jozsue – Joshua||8) Pal Lev. a Rom. – Romans|
|3) Kronika II – 2nd Chronicles||9) Efezusbel – Ephesians|
|4) Ezsdras – Ezra||10) Titushoz – Titus|
|5) Zsoltarok – Psalm||11) Jakab Levele – James|
|6) Esaias – Isaiah||12) Janos Jelenes – Revelation|
|7) Mate – Matthew|
In addition to the work travel this Fall, I also visited Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic (by van) for vacation with my Mom, older sisters Debbie and Diana, and Debbie’s sister in-law Charlotte. I drove most of the trip and called it the “Driving Miss Lazy Tour.” The trip involved a lot of laughter and seeing wonderful sites (the Alps)! But, mostly it was just a special time with some of my family members. (The others were sorely missed!) From left, me, Charlotte, Diana, Debbie and Mom at the Budavari’s house in Erd, Hungary.
I met these 11-12-year-old boys in Ukraine during a Bible lesson that OM sponsored. Afterwards, they played soccer in bitterly cold temperatures, while I took pictures and talked with some of them. They were completely smitten by this American woman (can you find me?) who came to visit their country. One boy asked me to write my name on his hand; others followed suit. Several went home with “Becky” on their hands. Pasha (front row, center) told an OM’er: “This American lady came and took my picture and it’s going to appear in 25 newspapers inthe United States. “ They were precious. Okay, maybe I was the one smitten. Would you pray for these young Ukrainian guys right now?
A foreigner with a camera in their midst intrigued these Ukrainian boys during the closing ceremonies for KidsGames in Ukraine. To read the story, visit www.om.org.